Welcome to the 2020 installment of the “How Your Favorite Team Won The Super Bowl” Series.
In this adventure, we’ll take a good, hard look at select NFL teams, show you their Super Bowl odds heading into the season, give you a little overview on what they’ve got to work with and what might be going on in their facility, then proclaim three key factors that must go in their favor in order for them to be crowned atop football’s Aggro Crag when all the confetti has settled.
For some, the list of variables that need to go right might not only be plausible, but expected. For others, their three factors might require a bit more creativity.
In this edition of the series we head to title town to see what the Green Bay Packers must do to be champions once again.
State of the Franchise
I don’t want to say that the Packers’ 13-3 record last season was a fluke. They won the games, and I can’t sit here and preach that every game in the NFL is tough and then discount 13 wins. However, when compared to 13-win teams of the recent past, I would say that last year’s Green Bay team wasn’t nearly as strong top-to-bottom.
Where there were parts of their roster that weren’t perfect, their strengths were in the important areas: pass-rusher, pass protection, and quarterback play. Pro Football Focus had the Packers’ offensive line as one of the top-10 units in the NFL, Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith both finished the season with double-digit sacks, and while it wasn’t Aaron Rodgers’ best season, he’s still Aaron Rodgers.
Despite the criticism, the Packers still were just one game short of the Super Bowl in 2019, so they are well within striking range to make an even better run in 2020 if some certain things happen for them.
Preseason Super Bowl Odds
28/1 (T-13th best)
WHAT MUST HAPPEN FOR PACKERS TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL
1. Rodgers & LaFleur Get An Apartment Together
In theory, the coaches know the abilities of the offensive players and what they do well, come up with the game plan, implement it in practice, and call the plays during the flow of the game on Sundays. But that’s, of course, in theory. What we really know is that it doesn’t always work so cleanly.
Sometimes the quarterbacks believe they have a better feel of what was going on and take control of the offense away from the play-caller. Such was the case with Rodgers and former head coach Mike McCarthy as recently as 2018.
Whether or not that really happened in 2019 with Rodgers and LaFleur is up for debate, but it sure felt like there was some tension between the two during certain points of the previous season.
Whether it’s as serious as a broken relationship needing to be mended or just some tension that needs to be massaged, Rodgers and LaFleur have to be on the same page moving forward. With what LaFleur has done around the league with different offenses, we’ve seen how effective his creative mind can be. The same can be said with Rodgers; at his best, he’s been unstoppable. Those two heads have to work together, not butt against each other in order for the Packers to best the likes of the Niners, Saints, and others in the NFC.
2. Mr. & Mr. Smith
Something that really allowed the Packers to have as much success as they did in 2019 was the dynamic duo of pass rushers, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith.
Za’Darius finished the season with 13.5 sacks, while Preston finished with 12. As of his offseason, it doesn’t sound like they’re planning on slowing down.
"In this system, guys like me and [Za’Darius] are allowed to be ourselves," Preston said. "It caters to our abilities and our biggest assets, and that's pass rushing and being used in multiple ways instead of being one-dimensional.”
This was the first time in the long-standing Packers’ franchise history that two players finished with 12 sacks or more in the same season. With last year being historic, it’s hard to say that they need that kind of performance again from the edge-rushing duo. But they do need to be able to get after quarterbacks with regularity.
3. Take Time Machine And Re-Do Their 2020 Draft Picks
Look, the Jordan Love pick could end up being exactly what the Packers hope it is by setting up another situation similar to that of Brett Favre and Rodgers years ago which allowed them to go from one Hall of Fame quarterback to another. But that won’t help them this year, and it won’t help them over the next three years, probably—and that’s at best.
Instead of Jordan Love at pick No. 26, the Packers could have drafted wide receivers Michael Pittman Jr. or Laviska Shenault at that spot, or with a small trade back. With their second pick, instead of drafting running back A.J. Dillon, they could have drafted linebacker Willie Gay Jr., who was selected one pick after Dillon and could have contributed right away at a bigger area of need. They could have also taken a player like wide receiver Bryan Edwards if they didn’t go receiver at the top. And with their third pick, instead of tight end Josiah Deguara, they could have taken linebacker Malik Harrison, offensive tackle Matthew Peart, or offensive tackle Lucas Niang.
Green Bay’s draft was one of the most puzzling hauls in the league, one that likely won’t help them out at all in 2020.